Why we won’t compromise on improving sustainability
Plastic - not so fantastic
Your toothbrush in the morning? Plastic. Your credit card? Plastic. Your lunchbox? Mostly plastic as well. Plastic in its various forms and compositions is everywhere. We have a lot to thank it for, hardly any other material has revolutionized our world like plastic and given us a material to innovate in numerous areas. Characteristics such as light weight, strength and flexibility have contributed to plastic’s adoption in countless sectors, including network video cameras.
But in a world where we produce over 330 million metric tons of plastic every year, everyone and every sector has to do their share to be more environmental friendly. We have seen the popular plastic straw ban for the hospitality industry; we may well see the omission of certain plastics in the electronics sector.
Like many other electronic devices, cameras typically contain Polyvinyl Chloride, better known as PVC. While highly versatile, PVC suffers from the problem common to all plastics, in that much isn’t recycled properly and that plastics take a long time to break down.
Most plastics, including PVC, are made from fossil material which, when combusted, contributes to an increase in greenhouse gases, and PVC additionally generates toxic Dioxin gas when combusted. This is a key reason why Axis has started using recycled plastic in many of its products, and has phased out the use of PVC entirely from most of its products.
Carl Trotzig, Director of Quality & Environment at Axis speaks about this enormous global ecological responsibility and how Axis is driving the sustainability agenda forwards.
Why is Axis taking action against hazardous materials?
Carl Trotzig: As the years pass and we start to see how hazardous materials are impacting the environment with things like climate change, the poisoning of marine life and landscapes contaminated by 50-year-old trash, sustainability becomes more and more important. Individuals, as well as businesses, realize the impact they have on the environment and many try to act environmentally aware and reduce their carbon footprints. Increasing numbers of our customers are following this trend by demanding sustainable products.
Take the BC Empresarial building in Colombia for example, which promotes “green entrepreneurship”. Its whole philosophy is around being environmentally sustainable, which is why it implemented a PVC-free, low energy-consuming camera solution from Axis, which saw it subsequently awarded LEED Gold
Our approach to sustainability is multi-faceted, such as ensuring optimal functionality as well as the striving to use more recycled materials (e.g. plastic). But the elimination of PVC has been one of our biggest projects. Although still an integral part of many products, it is now widely known that PVC is not only damaging the environment due to recyclability issues and production, but also human health. Several studies have found a possible connection between the lifecycle of this sort of plastic and diseases like cancer, asthma and immune system damage. Especially due to the release of harmful substances like phthalates and dioxins.
How is Axis tackling this challenge?
Carl Trotzig: Our R&D team is constantly looking for ways to improve the materials and procedures used for manufacturing products. For many years Axis has been focusing on phasing out environmentally hazardous substances – in particular, PVC. While we are creating cutting edge products and solutions, we are always keeping the environmental impact from our operations, products and solutions front of mind to ensure they are minimized. The long-term goal is to offer CFR and BFR-free products, including chlorine, found in PVC and chlorinated flame retardants, as well as bromine which is found in brominated flame retardants.
Additionally, we strive to use an increased amount of recovered materials in our products, such as recycled plastic, and we apply the same standards to our packaging, in order to make it as recyclable as possible.
We are well on our way to eliminating PVC from all Axis products: in 2017 93% of Axis cameras and encoders were completely free of PVC, up from 70% in 2015.
How are customers welcoming this approach?
Carl Trotzig: As mentioned earlier: customers are demanding this kind of effort from businesses nowadays. And it’s not just about what devices are made from. They want to know where it’s produced and if the companies offer good working conditions that comply with human rights. Today people expect organizations to act ethically and take responsibility for the environment – that goes for everything, from the food they supply to their staff in the canteen right through to security solutions.
One example is Vaisala, a global engineering company that takes sustainability very seriously. In fact, it is one of the organization’s criteria when it comes to choosing suppliers, even when selecting a security system. Vaisala’s decision to choose Axis was based on numerous factors: The cameras have a good functionality and because of their long lifespan, the number of replacements reduces significantly. Axis solutions also have a relatively low energy consumption level.
What else is being done to drive sustainability?
Carl Trotzig: Aside from the Axis campaign to eradicate PVC, we are developing solutions that reduce the drain on environmental resources. For example, energy consumption has been reduced in many ways through our innovations, such as using Lightfinder technology, so that cameras don’t require additional lighting.
We will also continue our focus on producing products of the highest possible quality. Sustainability and product quality go hand-in-hand: the longer lifetime that comes with increased quality means less need for replacements.
Will this be enough?
Carl Trotzig: In 2007, we committed to the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest initiative for sustainable development, and have followed its ten principles ever since. To work with us, suppliers need to respect or Supplier Code of Conduct, which we update regularly and we have adopted the guidelines set by the Responsible Business Alliance. This focus on sustainability throughout our supply chain – which includes regular audits of our key suppliers – means that we can be confident that our suppliers are supporting our overall goals for sustainability.
We have achieved so much in the last decade by removing hazardous substances, but environmental pollution doesn’t just come from the manufacturing of products, it touches every step of the supply chain.
To extend our efforts further, we also aim to reduce the carbon footprint of the transports of our products by 20% between 2016 and 2021, a goal which is being achieved by moving the production sites closer to their larger markets and reducing size and weight of our products and packaging.